by Kathy Ursprung
Aryn Rasmussen and her husband, Dave, want to see the Columbia Gorge Regional Airport grow and thrive, and help the surrounding communities do the same.
The Rasmussens are taking over Aviation Management Services from Chuck Covert, who is retiring. The company manages the airport.
“I’ll be doing most of the day-to-day stuff,” Aryn said after a recent meeting at Cousins’. Her husband is a pilot for Compass Airlines, a regional carrier.
Aryn was born and raised in Klickitat, where her family still lives. She attended the US Military Academy at West Point and graduated in 2011 with a degree in geography. She was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Adjutant General Corps, which she describes as the Army’s version of Human Resources.
“My first unit was an aviation unit with lots of pilots and helicopter guys,” she says. “That’s how I got into aviation originally. I deployed with them to Afghanistan, which is where I met my husband, Dave, who was a pilot.”
Their second duty assignment was in El Paso, Texas, where they lived for several years.
“After that I got out of the military and Dave deployed again,” she says.
During that time, Aryn worked for Keurig/Dr. Pepper in Las Vegas in their Emerging Leader program, learning about the company from bottom to top.
“That’s where my business background comes from.”
About a year ago, she started talking to Dana Peck of the Greater Goldendale Area Chamber of Commerce about the idea of getting involved with an airport in some way. When he heard that Chuck was retiring, he sent Aryn a note.
“It all fell into place from there,” she says.
Asked about her vision for the airport, Aryn says, “We want it to always be an airport and to use the airport as a way to grow and develop the community on both sides of the river. I think sometimes people can forget it’s there and what it can bring to the community.”
She describes it as a big airport, in terms of the kinds of traffic it is designed to serve.
Aryn also wants to help young people learn about aviation and its opportunities; not only piloting, but maintenance, air traffic control and other jobs.
“The aviation industry is booming right now,” she says. “It’s a huge presence in the gorge. I think if you’re not aware of it, you don’t really see what’s going on.”
She also praised the people involved in developing the airport business park, saying it is an exciting opportunity.
“I’m just excited to be here,” Aryn says. “I tell everyone I couldn’t wait until I was 18 and I could leave, then I spent the next 10 years trying to get back.”
Approval of the Rasmussens’ contract with the City of The Dalles is scheduled for the April 22 city council meeting and with the Klickitat County Commission after that. She hopes to be on the job by May 1.